Friday, June 29, 2007

Home Sweet Home

If only, I knew where that was. Questions regarding home seem to leave expats staring into space and wondering how do I answer that. "Where is home?" Do you want to know where I live in the foreign counry? Are you asking where I lived before this? Maybe they want to know where I grew up. I don't know, "where is home?" That is a question that I ask myself and wonder.

Then you come "home" or to be complete in my terms return to your home country and the question is "Is it good to be home?" "Yes, no, wait, I am not home, well, maybe this is home." What is home? The people here speak my native language, the food is familiar but wait which side of the road do you drive on, do I ask "where is the lift?", no, I need to ask "where is the elevator?" So am I home. I still don't know. I do know that I am enjoying being here.

So if you meet someone who lives overseas and you ask them "where is home?" be prepared for a stare and maybe some fumbling of words as they try to figure out how to answer that question.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Pausing and Pondering

I sat in shock for a bit of time this morning. I am still pausing and thinking. I know my blog is not usually full of deep thoughts but today I am pausing and pondering.

In April we had traveled to visit friends and during the Sunday fellowship I met someone. I had heard her name numerous times but actually met her that day. She greeted me during greeting time telling me that I had a cute daughter. She then told me about her sister who also has Down Syndrome. She told me her name and then we went through the list of people that we knew. She was there in that country helping homeschoolers and working with special needs kids.

This morning I talked to my friend that I had visited and mentioned this gal as a resource for homeschooling and special needs and my friend said, "oh, you didn't hear". She died. Old people die, sick people die not people in there 30's or so. It was about a month after our visit. She had pneumonia and went into respiratory distress.

This was someone that I met once. We talked briefly. In many ways I didn't know her and yet in a little way I knew her. She loved special needs kids, she loved helping people, and she loved Asia. Now she is home with Jesus.

I paused to think about how short life really is, it is a fading flower. So how am I going to spend my days. Do I want someone to remember that I got angry and yelled? Do I want my last words to be complaining?

I want to say "I love you more." I want to smile. I want to laugh. I want to give praise to God for all that he has given me. I want to love. My days may be long or short but Lord help me to fill them with your praise and for your glory.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Arrived or maybe I should say survived

We got to the airport in plenty of time which is the way I like to do it. So far no problems. The flight is overbooked. Bo has premier status or something like that so they move him to Economy Plus row 17 and Miss K and I are in row 65 with middle seats. Not much we could do at that point. The guy said he would put a note in the system and work at the gate. Finally, I got 17A and Bo got 17B and Miss K was in 21B. Yep, 4 rows behind us. Well, Miss K and I were in row 17 and S just 4 rows behind us. We all were in Economy Plus. Miss K and I had bulkhead seats which is wonderful because I have room to reach the toys that she threws.

I think I overpacked as far as things for inflight entertainment. Our flight departed at 6:30pm so in just a few hours she was ready to sleep. She did colour some, use her stickers but the winning items was baby and a wipe. Baby's nose, ears, hair, fingers, toes, and belly were washed quite a number of time.

She enjoyed her own bag of pretzels. Her hair is very fine and combined with the dry air she had lots of static and a very bad bed head after the flight.

Now we are in the next step of travel. Getting over jetlag. Our first night here she did great. Now it is early in the morning, the sun just came up and we have been up for 2 1/2 hours. Why is it at 3:30 that you wake up?

Monday, June 25, 2007

Inflight Entertainment Challenge

Here is my challenge entertain a 2 almost 3 year old for 12 1/2 hours inflight. She will have her car seat but she has not sat in that since last summer. Last year before we left I had her practice sitting in it. Oops, we leave in 11 hours and I forgot this year about practice time in the car seat.

Let's see what else I have to keep her entertained
New Colouring book with colored pencils & a few crayons as well
Stickers - just coloured dots but she loves stickers and those are cheap
Stuffed animals - most of them are just little Happy Meal toys so if they get lost or thrown around the plane no problem
Baby doll
Bags - she loves bags so I have a few little bags that can hold all kinds of goodies
Aqua Doodle
DVDs - if necessary they can be played on my computer
Cup for water (can't take a water bottle this trip but we have her favorite cup)
and when all else fails Benadryl which I need to make sure is less than 3 oz

In a few hours I will report what worked in providing inflight entertainment. I am hoping that since our flight is an evening flight that she will sleep.

Sunday, June 24, 2007


Most children go through the "no" phase. When they say "no" to everything. Not Miss K. She will say "no" if you ask a question. "K, do you like Sichaun opera?" Her response, "no", which is true.

She is in a "done" phase. When she doesn't want to do something she says, "done". Depending on what it is I will respond, "no you didn't even start to eat your broccoli." She signed "done" and now says it.

She was "done" at the Great Wall.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

K is for

Last night Miss K was playing with her MagnaDoddle. Her daddy decided to join the fun and so he wrote her name on the MagnaDoddle. She saw that and said her name. Okay, it is the short version of her name but her name.

A little bit later she had an alphabet book. She saw the letter "b" and said "b".

Time for me to read Teaching Reading to Children with Down Syndrome again. I was flipping through it last night and it talked about how some children will be able to read and talk before they can just talk. We will begin to focus on reading. I had done Doman's Teach your Baby to read when she was young. I still have all the cards that I made from that. Now we are going to move to some smaller cards.

July 4th Fun

Five Minutes for Mom is hosting a July 4th Fun with lots of giveaways. Go there to enjoy the fun.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

More Training Needed

Well, I posted the other day about child training. Please do not think that I have arrived, have completely trained her. We still have a ways to go as was seen at lunch today. It was one of those moments when you know you still have work to do. One of those things that catches you off guard. One of the times that you try to say "no" while not laughing.

We were enjoying a nice lunch with our dear friend, B, Miss K had a hot dog, french fries and daddy had shared some of his broccoli with her so that was added to her plate. I was turned looking at my sweet husband and telling him something when I saw a piece of broccoli land in his lap. I look at a innocent looking two year old who has turned her head to look at things behind her. I look at our friend, B, and she is trying not to laugh. She saw the whole thing and did say that Miss K had a great throw. She put her arm back and then let go. I guess it was good aim as well as it landed on daddy's lap.

Back to training.

Wordless Wednesday - I Scream, You scream We all scream for Ice Cream

Works for me Wednesday - Dishcloth Stew

My grandmother is 91 years old and she spends her days knitting dishclothes. I am younger than that and spend my days using dishclothes. I wash them but after a few weeks even with regular washes they start to smell and that is when I make Dishcloth stew.

I put some water in a pan, add some bleach and the dishclothes and boil them for a few minutes. The dishclothes do get a bit lighter in colour but they smell better after that. To me smell is more important than bright colour.

Some of my stash. Usually when I see my grandmother I give her some more yarn and then in a few days I get some more dishclothes.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Date Night

Often our date nights consist of putting Miss K to bed and if we are still awake and have any energy we will have a root beer float or play a round or two of Word Racer our favorite online word game. I do feel that it is important to have those special times together even if it is just at home. Last night was special.

We got a date night last night. Our dear sweet friend is visiting and she offered to watch Miss K so we could go out for an evening. Our first stop was the tailor. Bo wanted to get a shirt made. Actually, we went to the fabric part of the shopping center, bought the fabric and then found a tailor. He will pick up the shirt on Saturday. We turned down all the offers to buy DVD's copy watches, purses and a few other things that the vendors were selling.

Our next stop was Wal-Mart. It has been months, almost a full year since I have been to Wal-Mart. I can't say I am going through withdraw I kinda like not going there. Anyway, we walked there and didn't buy anything. Wal-Mart doesn't look like it does at home. I did see a few of the yellow smiling face. There is a commerical on the train about this guy who buys his girlfriend a meal from McDonald's and she thinks that is the greatest thing in the whole world. We laugh at it but I will confess that was what I was offered and had last night. Let me add a bit more. We considered our options -- a Korean restaurant, a seafood restuarant, a Swenson's that looked empty which is not a good sign, a Mexican that we never could find, and McDonald's. We opted for McDonald's with the condition of Starbuck's coffee afterwards. The thing with McDonald's is you know what you will get. That can be good and bad.

This was a medicine shop that we found last night.
We then went home. It was a bit strange to go to another country for a date night but was a fun outing. I think it is closer to go to Starbuck's there than here except that crossing the border going through immigration twice takes a bit of time.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Child Training

One of my biggest responsibilities as a momma is train my child. Training involves so many areas of life. Training to sit during a church service, training not to touch things, training to come when I call, training not to pull all the clothing out of the boxes, training to say "please" and "thank you" as well as training to help and work.

Some days I feel like I have not done a good job training especially when I see all the clothing pulled out of the boxes (we don't have a dresser rather two boxes that hold her clothing on the changing table) which happened this morning. I should have known she was quiet and in her room which usually means she found the clothing.

One of my big goals is to focus on lifeskills because those are things that she needs for life. My goal for her is that she will be independent and be able to live on her own if she desires. I like the Montessori aspect in teaching lifeskills to children.

This week we have been working on washing, drying, and putting dishes away. She knew how to put her dishes in the sink and would put any dish that she found dirty or clean in the sink. We have a bookshelf in the kitchen as our pantry so clean Tupperware containers are in easy reach. Washing is fun because it involves water. She has watched daddy wash with his brush and so she needed a brush too and don't forget soap. She would scrub the bowl and then we would give her a towel and she would dry it.

Then I would open the dish cabinet and let her put it away.
We also started to work on setting the table. I opened the dish cabinet and let her get her bowl out. She then put it in the sink to have it washed. I guess we need to work on that a bit more.

We still have lots of training to do but it is exciting as we take little steps in this direction.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Between the Raindrops

It is the rainy season here. The five day forecast is Rain of some sort everyday. The 10 day forecast looks the same -- scattered t-storms, scattered t-storms, party cloudy, mostly cloudy. Getting things dry and keeping them dry is one of the challenges of the season.

So between the raindrops I have been trying to dry clothing. My washer and tiny dryer which is smaller capacity than the washer are on the balcony.

I have been going to the grocery store. It is a 20 minute walk there and 30 minutes back. It is uphill with a stroller full of groceries and a 2 year old along. I did manage to do that between the rain the other day.

Between the raindrops I bought an umbrella. I had one with me but then gave my backpack to my kind husband who offered to carry it for me but we were going two different places. I was racing home before the rain but as I got to our train station the downpour began. We take a bus from the station to our village. I knew with that much rain I would get soaked. I headed to 7-11 to buy an umbrella they rip-off the people that forgot their umbrella -- $79 for an umbrella. I knew I needed one but I wasn't going to be cheated. I then headed around the corner to the Japan Home Store like a dollar store. I got one for $29. Guess what by the time I did that shopping and bought an umbrella it was just drizzling and I could have run home from the bus stop without getting soaked.

One neat thing here is that most buildings have plastic bags that you can use to put your umbrella in as you enter the building so you don't have to carry your dripping wet umbrella around so that it drips on the floor and makes it slippery.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Wrong Candy Bar

Sometimes guessing by the picture doesn't mean what you think it means. I love mint and chocolate so when we were traveling and I found this candy bar, I thought yum that looks good. It looks like chocolate with mint inside. Hey, it is Hershey's and I am loyal to Hershey's. I bought it for a treat as we traveled to our next destination but forgot to eat it. We got home and I decided to eat it. I needed a treat and reward for unpacking. Just the perfect treat a mint and chocolate bar.

My first bite told me that I was wrong. Yuck! That green leaf is not mint but rather green tea. Green Tea and chocolate do not mix. I then read the label a bit more carefully and did see the characters for "green tea".

So the moral of the story is things are not always what you think they are. Sometimes that is not good.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Refried Beans Results

I pulled my recipe from here. Actually, I just used that as a guideline. I threw some dry pinto beans in water last night to soak, this morning cooked them a bit with some chopped onion, cumin, and garlic powder. Then added some more cumin and chili powder and cooked a bit more. I then mashed them and let them side. Any extra water was soaked up. I had added quite a bit of water.

My husband said they tasted good just needed a bit more spice. Okay, I can add a bit more next time. They were easy and a cheap part of the meal.

Menu 6/11

We leave in just two weeks to spend some time visiting family. So that means time to inventory and eat some of the food that we have around here.

Monday - refried beans burritos. I decided to use some of the pinto beans we have around here and make my own.

Tuesday - oven BBQ chicken which I will do in the crock-pot with mashed potatoes, green beans, salad and even dessert. We are having company so that is the reason for the full meal.

Wednesday - stir-fry beef with broccoli

Thursday - Indian food with our friends at the local restaurant. I think this time we are planning to meet them instead of the many times that we just run into them there.

Friday - scalloped potatoes and ham which I found in the freezer

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Adventures in Shopping

First of all, the shopping that I am about to describe is not shopping in our city but rather shopping while on vacation. Here in our city it is calm unless you go to the tourist area and there all you get is someone asking if you want a copy watch or a tailor made suit.

Usually around any major attraction you would find the entrepreneur looking for an opportunity to make a buck on the tourists. Usually the line would begin "hello" and a pause and then "okay" which was the question, "you want to buy what I am selling." I actually did get hit by a lady trying to sell me some postcards. I didn't buy anything from them but decided that there postcards might have been a deal after paying the hotel lobby price.

One guy was selling silk bags. If you know me, I love silk and I love bags put them together and I am in double love. She said "3 dollars" wow that is a good price and I had wanted to buy some bags. I said, "okay". Then I learned he wanted US$ not the local money. That made mad. I felt like he is cheating me. I let him know I wasn't happy that he lead me on and walked away.

We went to a market area. It was organized in the sense that each vendor had there own area and for the most part they would stay in that area saying "look". It might be a clothing vendor, or a silk vendor, but if you didn't like one vendor you could always go to another vendor. I had a few things that I wanted to buy. I would look at something and ask "how much". They would grab the handy calculator and type in a number. Then the negotiating began. I knew I had to go very low to find a price that I would like. I wanted to buy some silk journals. The girl was asking 95 each. No way would I pay that. I had bought two on a recent trip and knew what was a fair price. I told her 15 and I would buy 4. She quoted a price but it was still higher than what I wanted to spend. I told her no and walked away. She called me back with an offer. Nope, wasn't good enough. I knew someone else would have them and they would either come to my price or I would cave in and pay there price. That gal really wanted to make a sale. She called me back again and sold them to me for 65. Yes, I got 4 for 65 which is much less than her original asking price.

I knew that someone else would sell it to me. If you want it too bad, you might end up paying too much. I also had an advantage in the sense that I knew what was a fair price not by standards from my home country but by standards from where we live and other places we have traveled.

As we walked through, the sales people would try to show a dress for Miss K. They would put it in front of her. I even had someone put something in her hands. Now that was mean because I had to grab it out of her hand and give it back.

My husband did say that I had a gift for negotiating and getting a good price. I bought a nice scarve and got the price to 20. Later that day another vendor quickly moved to the price of 20 so I am wondering if I could have gotten a better deal.

I had one vendor tell me she was giving me a good price because she liked my daughter.

So if you are shopping in this region. Be willing to walk away, go low in your offer, and have fun. Shopping is an experience and an adventure and you can come away with some great deals. Here are some of the finds. I can't show everything because some are gifts.

Minority Report

Living overseas and in a place where we stick out because of our skin colour you get lots of stares at times. Our city is very international and around here we don't feel those stares too often but during our recent travels we knew we were stared out. The people have seen foreigners but seeing foreigner children or babies is not as common and so Miss K got lots of stares, comments, touches, and pictures taken.

It is a challenge as a mother to protect her from the stares. touches, and photos. Because of her special needs I am sure even in our home culture she would be noticed. When she is in the stroller is it a bit harder than when I am carrying her in the Ergo. I will admit that I found people there a bit pushy and in your face. I did say no to having her picture taken and had some accept. I had one lady beg and plead.

That part of being a mother overseas is hard. I want her to be friendly but also don't want to force it on her.

I think this gives us a glimpse of how she was feeling.